An important step for devolution, but big challenges lie ahead
05 May 2017
Yesterday voters across the England took to the polls to choose six new metro mayors.
It’s an important step for Britain’s devolution agenda. These new Mayors – in Tees Valley, Greater Manchester, Liverpool city region, West Midlands, West of England and Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, have been given powers far beyond existing council leaders. They will take decisions on how to spend strategic funds, how to improve public services and how to develop infrastructure for their regions.
As results come in, winning candidates and their supporters will be excited by the prospect of taking office. But they should have no illusions as to the challenge ahead.
Because as a country, the UK is chronically unbalanced. If last year’s Brexit vote told us anything, it’s that people desperately want to take real control over their lives. That means taking meaningful action to shift focus away from London and the City, and instead work to strengthen neglected local economies.
That task falls in no small part to Britain’s six new metro mayors. Their years in office must be judged on how well they deliver real prosperity to their regions, taking action on three key areas:
Small businesses can only survive with strong local supply chains, keeping money circulating locally.
It’s one thing to create new jobs. It’s another to ensure they go to residents, as well as talent from elsewhere.
Regions only thrive when transport and housing are built to serve everyone.
Voters have placed their trust in the winning candidates. Now we must watch closely to ensure our mayors deliver.
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